Before I started writing here I had already gone on twelve Big Trips! Over time I will be adding the daily overviews of past trips, and today I’m giving you Big Trip 12. We’ve been to so many great places that I hope to inspire your future itineraries with our report. At the end of this post, you will see a map of our stops.
On our way out of town we stopped at our favorite used book store to stock up on reading for the trip then continued south to our first stop. After the Woodrow Wilson Museum we stay with a friend in Roanoke, Virginia.
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
Virginia was the birthplace for several presidents and we are slowly working our way around to all the various presidential historic sites.
The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia, is located at the birthplace of our 28th president. The museum includes Wilson’s restored 1919 Pierce-Arrow Limousine and a WWI trench replica.
The highlight of today is a stop at Mountain Lake Lodge where the Dirty Dancing movie was filmed. While there we discover they offer Dirty Dancing-themed weekends and add it to our list for a future weekend.
Mountain Lake Lodge
Boone Station Historic Site
In 1779 Boonesboro was too crowded, so Daniel Boone moved his family and established Boone Station which grew to 20 families at its height before they lost their land claim and moved on to another area.
We are starting the day with Abraham Lincoln then moving on to Superman!
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room cabin on Sinking Spring Farm. Just down the road is the Lincoln Boyhood home at Knob Creek, where he lived from age 2 1/2 to 8.
Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home – Knob Creek Farm
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace
Superman’s Hometown – Metropolis, Illinois
The town of Metropolis, Illinois, raised $120,000 in 1993 to build this 15-foot tall, 3-ton Superman statue.
Enjoying a couple of days of family time at Grandma’s house!
An entry from my trip journal for Day 4:
A quiet day spent hanging around at Lana’s house and Grandma’s house. Dirty Dancing and Hallmark movies. Rocco has to go to the kennel. The van’s check engine light is on.
Back on the road today, heading west to Nebraska. We were mostly trying to cover distance, so didn’t make a lot of stops. We did have time to see Albert, though.
Albert the Bull
Albert the Bull has been standing tall since 1964. The World’s Largest Bull is 28 feet tall and his horns span 15 feet. He weighs 45 tons.
Albert is a fan of recycling – his steel structure under the concrete is made mostly of steel salvaged from abandoned windmills in Iowa.
More driving. Stopped at the Massacre Canyon roadside memorial. Ate lunch in Fort Morgan. Stayed at our friend’s house in Denver.
Lunch with friends then head up the mountain to see Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum. Then dinner with some other friends.
Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum
Drive to Colorado Springs. Drop Rocco at the kennel. Lunch at SMASHburger with a friend then shopping. Dinner at Pueblo Viejo with Dad.
Drive back to Denver to pick up Ron and Felisa from the airport after a change in flight plans. Lunch at Schlotzsky’s and a drive through Garden of the Gods. Dinner on the grill, then off to the very wet and muddy finals night of Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.
Garden of the Gods
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo
Pick up Rocco at the kennel, then head south to Albuquerque.
New Mexico with family
Day 12: Meet the Philmont group at the Albuquerque airport to pick up Ryan. Listen to all his stories about the 101 miles they hiked over the past 12 days.
Day 13: A visit to one of our favorite used book stores then a stop at Big 5 and an oil change. Back at Grandma’s, lots of food and hanging out with cousins.
Day 14: We take Ryan to visit UNM and NM Tech in Socorro while the girls stay at Grandma’s. Later the kids play Trivial Pursuit and Bella practices driving.
On the road to Texas. Lots of wide open spaces and windmills and cows. Camping at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is so hot that it feels like the surface of the sun. Ron and the kids go to see the Texas! show while Rocco and I hang out at the campground. It stays hot for quite some time. The show ends with cannons and fireworks, which Rocco doesn’t like.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Driving to the ranch today. We even pass through Eden, TX, which is the center of the state.
Fun at the ranch with family.
Back on the road with one very full van! First stop – Austin Airport to drop off Ron and Felisa. We wanted to see the Magnolia Farms Silos in Waco, but the crowds and traffic were ridiculous. Instead, we discovered a new fast food chain – Raising Canes. Then back on the road. Ryan had his first-ever turn driving during a Big Trip. Hotel in Monroe, LA, for the night.
Today was the day to finally drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway after many trips of passing it by. We started in the middle, so missed some but still saw lots of interesting scenery. Lunch in Kosciuscko, MS, and getting the check engine light checked again (the darn thing is back on AGAIN). After we exit the Natchez Trace we stop at Elvis’ birthplace. Then onward to Birmingham to see a friend.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile-long scenic drive (and National Park!). It roughly follows the “Old Natchez Trace” a historic travel corridor used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and future presidents. There’s a great video on the NPS website for the park that shows an overview of the drive through the park.
We entered near Jackson and exited at Tupelo so only saw the middle section on this trip.
The Natchez Trace Parkway continues all the way to Nashville but we got off in Tupelo, Mississippi. We stopped to see Elvis’ Birthplace and walk around the gardens before continuing east to Birmingham.
On the road once more, heading east. Bella is not feeling well today. Why do we always run into trouble leaving Birmingham? Stop at Georgia Tech to look around. Then off to USC in Columbia to look around. SMASHburger for dinner.
Start off the day with Krispy Kreme donuts. Standard drive north on I-95 through South Carolina, North Carolina, and southern VA. Spend the night at a friend’s house. (Except for Rocco, who has to spend one last night at a kennel.)
Homeward bound once we pick up Rocco. As always, lots of traffic heading north on I-95. Finally make it home.
This year was a short trip. 6417 miles, 15 states, 7 colleges, 24 days. Looking back, we spent a lot more of our time with friends and family with several long driving days. We didn’t break up our drive with as many fun stops as we usually do. A perfect example of how even for us, every trip is different!
A Map of Our Waypoints
Here’s a Google map showing the places we stopped along our route.
Follow me for more!
Sign up for my newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest from Behind Every Day.
Want more Big Trips?
Check out all our Big Trip itineraries and other info here:
Use my planner!
I made a printable version of my travel planner for you to use when planning your next trip. Check it out on Etsy! (affiliate link)